London animation studio, Kong, continues to create the best self-promotions ever. They are now a series of three animated Long Story Short films. The series’ concept is to tell an informative and entertaining – true – story in under 60 seconds using animation.
The new true story, Did I Miss Anything? is about Shoichi Yokoi. It begins in 1944 during the battle for Guam island. Shoichi Yokoi, a sergeant in the Imperial Japanese Army who, fearing the shame of being captured by American Forces, went into hiding in the Guam jungle. He didn’t emerge for 28 years. A lot happened in that time.
Kong Studio’s Long Story Short series shows that truth can be stranger than fiction. The challenge, in this case, is the contrast between Yokoi’s long lonely exile and the film’s rapid running time.
Kong co-founder, Bill Elliott, took on the challenge to shrink the 28 years right down, using fast-paced match cuts to describe the progression of time. Rather than focusing on geopolitical events, he describes the changing world through new technology, obscure inventions and seminal moments in popular culture. Each of the world events is stripped down into a single graphic, stamp-like ‘blink and you’ll miss them’ animation – postcards through time.
Elliott commented, “I came across the so-called ‘Japanese holdouts’ – members of the Japanese Imperial Army who continued to fight or go into hiding until well after Japan’s surrender in 1945. Some of whom didn’t re-emerge for over thirty years. Their stories coincided with decades of technological advancement that would have been unthinkable to them. I wanted to create a lightning-fast film referring to just how much the world had changed during their self- imposed isolation. From the baffling to the disposable, to the simply unimaginable. Shoichi Yokoi was not the last ‘holdout’, but his story was certainly (marginally) less grim than others. He retained a sharp wit and went on to become a famous TV personality in Japan. The irony of telling his twenty-eight-year holdout in one minute was not lost on us.”
Beardyman, aka Darren Foreman, used his signature quick-fire delivery to squeeze the script into one minute.
Elliott stated, “Simply put, we needed a talent that could verbally machine gun our story. A script we could only fit into one minute by recording at double speed! Darren ‘Beardyman’ not only had the credentials but could do it with wit, charm and clarity. The recording session became a time trial. I used a stopwatch, pushing Darren each time to break the one-minute mark. We left Beardyman perspiring and out of breath, but we had our twenty-eight years condensed down to one minute exactly.”
Beardyman added, “I am delighted to be a part of this series. History is most effectively taught by sketching engaging stories rather than by memorising dates and names of rulers. I am an avid listener of YouTube video essays, which I play out at double speed with the subtitles on. This kind of content is perfect for people like me, who want to learn interesting, thought-provoking things in a fun, information-rich and engaging way.”
The series is available on Vimeo and YouTube. Watch the rest of the series (and Kong’s other work) here.
Kong Studio: The headless chicken making Kong stand out
Written & Designed by Bill Elliott
Animated by Tom Baker
Voice Over by Darren Foreman
Sound Design by Josh Elliott
Produced By Emma Burch